The power of green and red in visual management

Mike Wroblewski

Let’s hear it for the big green and red! It’s a powerhouse team that is unbeatable.

No, this is not to cheer on a particular college or pro team. If I was yelling out team colors, it would be green and gold for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. The Pack has had a dominant and surprising season to date. But, I digress.

No, this is not to celebrate the holiday season typically represented by the colors of green and red. Some could even argue that these colors represent the money (green) and debt (red) with the commercialization of Christmas and the hyped shopping season. Again, I digress.

No, it’s not to support a healthier lifestyle by eating more fruits and vegetables by colors (as in more greens and reds in our diet). This is a good message for the holiday season since we are faced with increased temptation of holiday snacking and desserts during the festive season.

What I am cheering for is the powerhouse team of green and red in our visual management system. How many times have you looked at a chart, graph or dashboard metric in typical black and white, needing a few minutes to determine the numbers to figure out the status? Sometimes it takes more than a few minutes. With the low cost of color printers, color markers and color tape, there is no reason not to use the power of green and red.

For example, the basic metrics of quality, cost, delivery and safety in most policy deployment charts could be highlighted in a green box (for good) or a red box (for needs improvement). Or, you could use a dial gage indicator with green and red zones for the same effect. Take a look at your metric chart. Is it visual? Is it simple? Is it clear?

Another chart that I see typically in black and white is the work cell hour-by-hour chart. It is difficult to quickly determine the status on most hour-by-hour charts that use just a black marker. How about adding the power of green and red? Use the black marker for the target numbers and either green (made target) or red (missed target) for the actual numbers depending on the actual results. With the power of green and red, anyone can quickly see the production status.

Can you think of any other visual management areas that can be improved with the power of green and red? How about 5-S audit sheets or project status charts?

So this holiday season, I wish everyone peace and joy. And remember to cheer for the Packers, reflect this holiday season on good will toward all man over gift giving, eat healthy with more fruits and vegetables, and most importantly, may the power of green and red be with you.

About the author:

Mike Wroblewski started his lean journey with instruction in quick die change from Shigeo Shingo. Mike is currently the lean sensei at Batesville Casket Company in Batesville, Ind. He also writes a blog called " Got Boondoggle?" featuring lean and Six Sigma topics. Check it out at http://gotboondoggle.blogspot.com/.

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Toyota Material Handling

Mike Wroblewski started his lean journey with instruction in quick die change from Shigeo Shingo. Mike is currently a ...